Rays place Wander Franco on restricted list amid investigation

Major League Baseball launched an investigation into Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco and the team placed him on the restricted list after social media posts questioned the alleged nature of a relationship between Franco and a younger woman, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.

Franco, 22, did not make the trip with the Rays to San Francisco, where they began a three-game series Monday night with a 10-2 win against the Giants. Teams can use the restricted list, which takes a player off the team's roster, for a variety of situations, including potential legal matters.

While teams are not required to pay players who are on the restricted list, the Rays are continuing to pay Franco's $2 million salary, sources told ESPN.

In a statement, the team said: "The Tampa Bay Rays and Wander Franco have mutually agreed that he will go on the Restricted List and take leave from the Club for the duration of the current road trip."

The league's inquiry, conducted by its department of investigations, is looking into a number of social media posts concerning Franco's alleged relationship with the woman in the Dominican Republic, where he grew up.

Asked about the alleged relationship, the media office of the attorney general in the Dominican Republic told The Associated Press in a statement that "there are investigations regarding that matter."

Franco did not play Sunday, which Rays manager Kevin Cash said was a planned day off, and after starting the game in the dugout, he left in the fifth inning. He did not speak with the media after the game.

On Monday, Cash declined to discuss the situation in specifics but said he remained confident in his club's ability to focus on baseball.

In November 2021, the Rays and Franco agreed on an 11-year, $182 million contract extension 70 games into his career. Franco has been one of the most productive players in MLB this season, batting .281/.344/.475 with 17 home runs, 58 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases, and made his first All-Star team.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.